Does Your Child Know How to Work?

September 19, 2011

Just to clarify - she didn't work the entire summer!

At an appointment this summer, the doctor, being polite, asked my Emily what she was doing on her time off from school.  She launched into a dissertation of sorts on her activities – a job at J Crew, some babysitting, two classes at the community college, etc, etc.  The doctor, rather surprised at the list, looked at me and said, “How do you get her to do all that?”

I must of looked rather baffled because I didn’t know what she meant.  She clarified and it dawned on me that my daughter is hard working.  I didn’t “get” her to do anything.  She had dropped a class in the fall, so she was making one up and getting ahead one in the summer.  She needed money so she got a job and was babysitting a little, too.

She was just doing her job.  Keeping up with her goals and desires.  It is expected that she will graduate on time, pay for extras she desires, and that she will work.  Work is not bad.  Work is good.  It brings a sense of accomplishment, independence, discipline, self-confidence and pleasure.  Not to mention an appreciation for the value of money and what it takes to earn it.

Sometimes, I think we as parents think that we should spare our children from having to work.  This leaves the child with the impression that work is that drudgery thing that parents do and ugh, I will have to do in the future. Do you make your child’s bed?   If you make your child’s bed every day, the child will expect you to work for them.  If you teach your child to make their own bed and praise them for it, the child will gain satisfaction from the work and the child will want to work for you.

I think it is easier to introduce the expectation of work to a child when they are really young versus forcing it on them when they are a teenager. Young children so easily get excited about accomplishments and will accept your expectations without question.  And if they grow up with the expectation to work they won’t know anything different and will begin to self direct there own work ethic, as in the case of Emily.

There are great ways to train them when they are little like chore charts, self responsibility checklists, and clean up cards.  As they age they graduate to paid jobs like babysitting, lawn maintenance, etc.  It will take effort, training and consistency on your part.  However, in the end, your child will know how to work and most likely, will enjoy it.  And that will be a great comfort to you in your old age!

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